Can You Make a Career Transition If You Are a Specialist?

“Switching from one career to another can be scary, but it also can be a thrilling experience. Look at it as an opportunity to really go after what you want to accomplish in life and make a difference in the world.” – Jack Canfield

Becoming a specialist in one area takes months, years, or even longer. Yet even people with specific expertise often think about making career transitions to something new, but they worry about needing to take a step back or essentially being demoted. If you go into a new industry, is all of that time and energy wasted?

These questions aren’t new. Life gives us new realizations and experiences of things we want to learn, try, or grow in. Even PhD level engineers and scientists who specialized in a very narrow field can successfully make industry transitions to something new.

Here are a few basic principles and lessons that I have learned in helping people in these situations:

  1. All of us have skills and experiences that are transferable. If we can identify them, we can build on them to show the unique value we can bring with our expertise.
  2. We need to have clarity around the type of things we want to do so we can focus our efforts. This could be an industry, technology, or new skill we want to learn, but the more focused we can be on what we are moving towards, the better.
  3. Try something new and experiment! Instead of staying where you are currently at, explore outside of your comfort zone and familiarity. Even if you are still in your present role, try taking on a new project, initiative, or task that will push you in some way.

We never have to feel like we’re stuck in one area, industry, or specialization forever. The existing skills and experiences we gain are always with us and that’s something we can bring into new fields. We don’t need to spend the rest of our lives doing only one thing—we can transition, discover, and learn more in the process of change.

See more in the video below!

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